Choosing a Bearded Collie

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The bearded collie is one of Great Britain's oldest breeds and is a beloved sheep herder and family pet. Also known as the Highland collie or mountain collie, this dog is named after the long hair under the chin, giving the appearance of a beard.

History and Origin

The bearded collie originated in Scotland as a descendent of the Polish sheepdog, which was first introduced into Scotland in the early 1500s. These dogs were bred with other herding breeds until the bearded collie was developed. The dog looks very similar to the Old English sheepdog and may be related. In Scotland, the bearded collie was used for hundreds of years to herd flocks of sheep and cattle. The loving personality of the breed eventually led to him being kept as a family companion in addition to a working dog. By the early 20th century the breed was almost extinct but was rescued by a breeding pair in 1944.

An uncommon breed, in 1967 the first reported litter was born in the United States and since then their popularity has slowly risen.

In 1977, the bearded collie was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the herding group.

Appearance and Size

The bearded collie is a medium sized shaggy dog. The head is broad with a short muzzle. The eyes are large and set far apart and the ears are set high, hang close to the head and are covered with long hair. The tail is long and carried low.

The coat of the bearded collie is dense and weather resistant with a natural part. The outer coat is flat and shaggy. The under coat is soft. The color of the coat can change of the course of the dog's life. The puppy coat tends to fade to a light grey or cream color and then darkens as the dog matures. The adult dog can have a coat that is brown, black, blue or fawn with or without white markings.

The adult bearded collie stands around 20 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 40 to 60 pounds.

Personality

The bearded collie is a gentle and devoted companion. Rarely aggressive this breed is always happy and full of life. They are known for the 'bounce' in their step.

Home and Family Relations

The bearded collie has been bred as a companion for hundreds of years and therefore is an excellent family pet, especially for families that enjoy the outdoors. As a herding dog, they love to herd small children and dote on them. The bearded collie is playful and active and always seems to have a smile on his face. They are good watchdogs since they tend to bark a lot but do not make good guard dogs due to their loving and happy nature.

The bearded collie is an active and energetic dog that does not do very well in an apartment setting. They much prefer a home with an average to large sized fenced yard. They can do well as outside dogs and farm dogs. Their coat allows them to thrive in a variety of harsh climates.

Training

The bearded collie is eager to please and easy to train for a variety of purposes such as obedience, tracking, herding and agility but some can be stubborn. Obedience training should be started early in life.

Special Concerns

The coat of the bearded collie requires daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles. This dog does not like to be left alone for long periods of time and may become destructive.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The bearded collie is a hardy breed that has few known diseases. Reported ailments include:

  • Hip dysplasia that occurs when the hip joint develops abnormally and can result in pain, lameness and arthritis.
  • Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
  • Corneal dystrophy is a primary, inherited, bilateral (both sides), symmetrical condition of the cornea that is not accompanied by corneal inflammation or systemic disease.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition usually begins in older pets and can lead to blindness.
  • Congenital Elbow Luxation is a dislocation of the elbow joint.

    Life Span

    The average life span of the bearded collie is approximately 14 to 15 years.

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